Haptic Pleasures

Roca London Gallery, 16th May 2019

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“Seeing’s believing, but feeling’s the truth”
Thomas Fuller

A voyage of sensory discovery based around the importance of our sense of touch. Exhibits designed to stimulate guests’ senses included an oozy cheese fountain, non-Newtonian fluids and cocktails featuring popping candy.

The evening reception, held at Roca London Gallery, saw guests explore the most fundamental, yet intimate sensations of consuming and savouring touch – particularly in relation to food and the role it plays in creating ‘involuntary memories’  – the term famously coined by Marcel Proust.

The event was intended to flag the deeper side of touch: haptics. Stemming from the ancient Greek word ‘haptikós’ (‘able to grasp or perceive’), it refers to more than just touch – it refers to the sensual information your brain gathers through touching things, which then gives you an idea of its physical properties and how you should touch/handle it.

Throughout the evening, we explored the fact that there are huge amounts of delight to be had from haptics. From the satisfying feeling of soft fur under your fingers through to the joy of biting into something tantalisingly squidgy (food’s texture being all about haptics rather than taste).

The event culminated in a panel of design industry experts to discuss how they consider and incorporate haptics within their professional practice. The discussion was chaired by author and journalist Linda Rodriguez Mc Robbie and joined by Sophia Hagen: Design Director Design Haus Liberty and Mark Miodownik: Professor of Materials and Society at UCL.

The mouth contains some of our body’s most complex and sensitive touch receptors, so the evening’s food and drink menus were designed for maximum haptic enjoyment:

Moss & Goose Egg
Edible moss, goose egg emulsion, pickled radish with chervil and edible petal
Wet and dry, creamy, crunchy

Textures of Tomato
Sourdough croute, sundried tomato purée, mozzarella crème, balsamic tomato, with tomato skin crisp and micro basil
Umami, acidic, sweet, sharp

Cheese Single Sandwich
Garlic and onion cheese, kettle crisp, garnished with dehydrated spring onion
Soft, creamy, crisp, pungent (fat, sugar and salt golden hedonic ratio)

Japanese Crudités
Tsukemono, cucumber and daikon, chizo leaf, edible flowers with nori
Crisp and crunchy, cold, fresh, wet, acidic, sweet, umami

Candied Sardine Carcass
Bone and sugar crunch

Daffodil Ice Cream
Floral, creamy, fresh